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Plane Makers Must Show Freezing Rain, Drizzle Effects, FAA Says

By John Hughes
June 28th, 2010
Hall & Associates LLC


June 28 (Bloomberg) -- Aircraft and engine manufacturers must show their new models can withstand freezing rain and drizzle, U.S. aviation regulators said today, expanding rules to cut risks from icing in response to a fatal 1994 crash.

Complying with the requirement would cost $71 million, mostly absorbed by manufacturers such as airplane makers Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS as well as engine manufacturers General Electric Co. and United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney, the Federal Aviation Administration said in the proposed rule to be published in tomorrow’s Federal Register.

U.S. air-safety advocates recommended icing rules after a flight operated by Simmons Airlines for AMR Corp.’s American Eagle unit crashed in Roselawn, Indiana, on Oct. 31, 1994, killing all 68 people on board. Freezing drizzle led to a ridge of ice on an Avions de Transport Regional ATR-72, causing the airplane to lose control after holding at 10,000 feet, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded in 1996.

The NTSB’s final report recommended that the FAA require manufacturers to ensure new products are tested for all types of icing conditions the aircraft may encounter in flight. The FAA hasn’t previously required manufacturers to show how products can operate in freezing rain and drizzle.

The requirement also covers ice crystals, and a mix of the crystals and freezing rain and drizzle. The FAA reported 14 cases of crystals and mixes causing engine loss between 1988 and 2009, though no fatalities.

The Roselawn crash prompted additional requirements. In 2009, the FAA issued a rule requiring that new passenger aircraft include ice-prevention systems that automatically activate or alert pilots to turn on the equipment.

--Editors: Steve Geimann, John Lear

To contact the reporter for this story: John Hughes in Washington jhughes5@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net.

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